Confidential settlement ban voted down by House committee

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota House lawmakers have shelved a bill that would have barred government officials from negotiating confidential settlements.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 10-3 Wednesday to reject the measure. It had cleared the Senate.

The Argus Leader reports that state law currently allows state and local officials to negotiate confidential settlements, which lets them hide payouts and misconduct such as sexual harassment.

Republican Sen. Arthur Rusch's bill would have required that settlements negotiated by public entities be public. Opponents of the bill argued that negotiating confidential settlements saves taxpayer dollars.

Republican Rep. Tona Rozum says she was concerned sexual harassment victims' names could become known if public entities couldn't sign confidential settlements.